The 2020 Census data were released yesterday, and the big takeaway is that, for the first time since the Census began in 1790, the total number of white people in America has declined, as the country is becoming more diverse. As the Washington Post reports,

The number of people identifying as non-Hispanic White and no other race dropped by 5.1 million people, to 191.7 million, a decrease of 2.6 percent.

The country also passed two more milestones on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in the coming decades: For the first time, the portion of White people dipped below 60 percent, slipping from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 57.8 percent in 2020. And the under-18 population is now majority people of color, at 52.7 percent.

The Census numbers are also the basis for drawing congressional districts, so it should be interesting to see the gerrymandering gymnastics performed by Republican-held legislatures in states that saw large growth in their nonwhite populations. It may be ugly, but the routine will no doubt get a "10" from the Hungarian judge.


At a news conference yesterday, the Census Bureau's Nicholas Jones, director and senior adviser of Race and Ethnic Research and Outreach for the bureau's population division, said that the 2020 Census had an improved research design that provided a "more accurate portrait" of America's racial and ethnic landscape.

"These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past," Jones said. "We are confident that differences in the overall racial distributions are largely due to improvements in the design of the two separate questions for race data, collection and processing, as well as some demographic changes over the past 10 years."

We also see that in its report on the Census, Politico's URL actually misspells "population" as "pouplation," which makes Yr Dok Zoom, a terrible typist, feel somewhat better about himself.


In other figures that are likely to freak out your racist uncle who frets that white people aren't having enough babies, the Post notes that overall US population growth was a mere 7.4 percent since the 2010 Census, the slowest growth rate since the 1930s. And most of that population growth was among people of color:

The largest and most steady gains were among Hispanics, who doubled their population share over the past three decades to 62.1 million people, or 18.7 percent, in 2020 and who are believed to account for half of the nation's growth since 2010.

Asian people, who made up about 3 percent of the population in 1990, also doubled their share since then, to 6.1 percent, while the Black population's share held steady at 12.1 percent.

Six states and the District of Columbia now have majorities of people of color, including Nevada and Maryland, which passed that milestone in the past decade. Maryland is now 47.2 percent White, and Nevada is 45.9 percent White. White population fell in three-quarters of counties, and in 35 states.

Somewhere — perhaps on a Chinese billionaire's yacht — Steve Bannon curled up into a fetal position, clutching a battered copy of his favorite novel, The Camp of the Saints, and demanded someone bring him a fourth or fifth shirt to put on over the ones he was already wearing.

NPR Census reporter Hansi Lo Wang noted on the PBS NewsHour last night that another big shift in the numbers involves how Americans are identifying themselves these days, too, which may have contributed to the seeming decline in Americans who only checked off "white" as their racial category:

But if you take a look at the number of people who checked off the white box, as well as other, at least one other, one other racial category, that group, that share has increased more than 300 percent. So, this is telling us that, over the past decade, more and more people living in the United States are choosing to report that they identify with more than one racial group.

In addition, interracial marriages are also becoming more common, and Americans are, in general, just thinking a lot differently about racial and ethnic identity than in the past. That's also reflected in how the Census was put together, the Post points out:

The bureau's design, data processing and coding procedures have made it easier for respondents to identify as more than one race.

"It looks like most of the increase in the diversity index is because the current census worked hard to identify diversity that was already there, but it will be some time before we know for sure," said Steven Martin, a senior demographer at the Urban Institute.

Finally, the Census shows that America is getting more urban and less rural, which again is going to be a hell of a thing to watch play out in redistricting, as conservative rural areas demand they continue to wield power in state legislatures and Congress like they used to, because after all they're the real America. We'll go with USA Today's summary here:

The census found that more than half of U.S. counties shrank over the past decade.

Overall, metropolitan areas grew by 9% compared with only 1% growth for smaller areas. Less than half of the nation's 3,143 counties saw any population increases over the past decade while 81% of metropolitan areas grew. [...]

Even in rapidly growing states, such as Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, the census found that rural counties on average lost people while urban and suburban counties outpaced expected growth.

We're sure that white voters in those shrinking rural areas will graciously accept the demographic facts and calmly resign themselves to the reality that in a constitutional democracy, it only makes sense that the emerging multiracial majority in America will be represented fairly and proportionally in government. That's what makes this country so great, isn't it?

[Politico / AP / WaPo / PBS NewsHour / USA Today]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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